Traditional names aren't for everybody. There are a ton of options these days that go well outside of the box, but other parents want to take a twist on a traditional name and make them their own. That's when a nickname could be a great option for a baby these days.
Nicknames can help parents link the old and new, such as paying homage to a late family member but not being tied to an old sounding name. The names sound familiar, but they stand out in interesting ways.
And many people are finding nicknames to be a cool unisex choice as well. Some of these picks have become stand-alone names by themselves but others may be a surprise. Friends may ask "what is that short for?" but parents don't have to feel beholden to come up with an answer. The name means something on its own, and it can be special for that kid.
Some of these names have been making the rounds in celebrity circles the last few years, but we thought that everyone should want to steal them for their own sweet boy or girl.
Here are 20 adorable nicknames moms will want to steal for their little cutie pie.
Charles is one of the most aristocratic and old school names around — in fact, the next King of England has that name. But Charlie has the same meaning of "free person," but with more of a friendly and fun connotation. Everyone likes a Charlie, but that isn't always true of a Charles or a Charlotte.
There are a number of celebrities who have gone for the nickname for their boys or their girls. Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O'Connell chose it for one of their twin girls and Jeremy Sisto added a hyphen for his daughter Charlie-Ballerina. Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer chose the name for one of their twins too, but this one was a boy. And Tiger Woods and Zooey Deschanel went with the nickname for their boys too.
Most people think of Charlie as a nickname for a boy, but it's more popular as a stand-alone name for a girl. Of course, that makes it a great choice for people looking for a unisex choice. It should definitely be on any nickname name list.
For years, whenever you heard the name Sam, you thought that it was short for Samuel. Sure, there was also Samantha for girls, but it wasn't always shortened. Now, though, Sam is a great choice that could be an ode to a grandpa or maybe Samson or Samwise Gangy from The Lord of the Rings. As a nickname name, it's got the mystery and the possibility to be whatever a mom and dad wants it to be — and whatever the child does too.
Just like Charlie, Sam is someone that is affable and well-liked, yet it could belong to a Supreme Court justice or a Nobel Prize winner. Tiger Woods chose the name for his daughter, and so did Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards. But Sam as a stand-alone name is a little more popular for boys. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys chose it for their baby boy. There are still tons of Samuels, but Sam can stand out as a sweet and fun one-syllable alternative.
This is one of our favorites on this entire list. We weren't so sure about it the first time we heard it, as the middle name of Jessica Simpson's little girl. But then we remembered we've actually known it forever, thanks to Drew Barrymore. And of course, it's also been around forever as an alternative nickname to Andrew. Andy may be the most popular shortened version, but Drew is an even cooler pick.
It's actually stood on its own since 1942, according to Nameberry, and for boys, it's just inside the top 400. Andrew means "strong and manly," and shortening doesn't necessarily take away the power but it does make it a more unisex option. It's also pretty close to another cool nickname name— Dre. For girls, it can be an ode to Nancy Drew, and it's a modern-yet-traditional take on the one-syllable, unisex valley girl names like Paige and Blair.
We have the greatest nickname for any name list, boy or girl. In fact, it means "greatest" — Max. This one also belongs on the list of nice guys who got called by pet names growing up. They could have been Maxwell or Maximilian or Maximus or Maxfield or anything like that, but to those who knew and loved them, they were Max. And we think that going straight to the short and sweet version is perfect.
Max has become a unisex name lately. It's been used for sons for decades, including recently by Charlie Sheen, Christina Aguilera, and James Corden. But recently, it's also been used for girls as well, most notably by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for his little girl. We all wouldn't have had as bad a reaction to Jessica Simpson's daughter's name if she had gone for Max instead of Maxwell, right? The nickname is a perfect name to steal for the greatest little cutie pie.
One of the major comeback vintage names around these days is August or Augusta, but we think a better choice might be to go straight for the nickname and name the baby Gus. It's a great grandpa pick that is familiar but not too popular on the playground, and — let's face it — the name just makes us smile.
It's definitely a great choice for a boy, and celebrities like Emily Robison from the Dixie Chicks and Julie Bowen from Modern Family have chosen it for their little guy. But it also definitely has the crossover potential of the other names on our list like Sam and Drew. We can't think of any celebrities who have tried that yet, but we think that's an even better sign that it's a great name. A little Gus is a go-getter who is comfortable in his or her own skin and always willing to lend someone in need a hand. We think that little Guses are adorable, and it would be a great name for a little cutie pie.
Ever since Ol' Blue Eyes serenaded us in the '40s, the nickname of Frank has been a popular one for kids instead of the more old-fashioned Francis. But we want to modernize even further and give it a more unisex appeal by choosing Frankie, a name that works for a boy or a girl. It could be a nickname for a Frank or Francis or Franklin or the feminine versions of Frances or Francesca — but we love it as a stand-alone name.
A few decades ago, a parent was more likely to choose Frankie as a nickname than a regular name, like Amanda Peet. But in recent years Drew Barrymore and Sarah Chalke chose it for their daughters. It's been more popular as a stand-alone for girls, but it's definitely a nice possibility for a boy, now that Frank seems like an old, out-of-date choice. Frankie definitely has oldschool charm with a modern appeal.
Remember when Louis was the name of the guy on "Revenge of the Nerds?" Yeah, it's no wonder it lost its way as an old, out-of-style moniker. And Louise and Louisa weren't far behind it. But there is a hip new nickname name that could work for the parent who wants to honor a Louis in the family, or Lou Gehrig or just like the name. How about Lou all on its own?
Lou means "renowned warrior," and it is a known name that rolls off the tongue but definitely stands out in the crowd. In the past, a number of girls had Lou as part of their name, such as Mary Lou or Betty Lou or even Lou Ann, but now it's a great name all by itself. Just ask Heidi Klum, who chose it for her daughter with Seal. We're sure there are some parents will want to steal this name for their little cutie.
Ace was never really a nickname for a certain name. It was more of a pet name that dads used for their little star. Ace reminds us of a baseball player who is a star on the Little League field and destined to have his name in lights in the major league. Or maybe it makes you think of Ace Frehley, a rocking musician famous for making hits with the band Kiss. Either way, Ace is definitely a cool kid who everyone wants to be friends with. Even Ace Ventura had his moments, right?
Anyway, there are a bunch of celebrities who have adopted the pet name as a full-fledged moniker, including Jessica Simpson, Kandi Burruss and baseball pitcher Casey Daigle (see, we told you!). It's even the name of Arnold Palmer's grandson, so it's definitely caught on among the athletes out there, and so it's great to choose for a dad who has dreams that his boy will make it to the big leagues.
Alexander is so 2008 — OK, not really. It's still super popular at No. 11 on the baby boy popularity list. But we know that parents these days aren't really dying for their little one's name to be in the top 20. That's why we think the nickname Alex would be a great stand-alone alternative for parents who want their kid to have a familiar name that stands apart from the rest.
Alex also has unisex appeal, since it is also a nickname for Alexandra or Alexis. Ree Drummond, the "Pioneer Woman," named her daughter Alex and the female avatar for the Minecraft game is named Alex, so we know that it's definitely not too weird a choice for a girl. We love the nickname more than the long versions, so it definitely seems fit for a baby name list for a boy or a girl.
We went back and forth on this one, whether we should make it Joey or Joe. Both are nicknames for Joseph or Josephine, and both are great All-American names that make you think of fun, nice, popular kids. But we went with Joey because it is a little more unusual and a fun and wholesome name with a great flow.
For a girl, we picture the prettiest little tomboy who loves to wear boots and play in the dirt — like Joey from "Dawson's Creek" but also like the late great Joey Feek from Joey + Rory. And with the sex appeal of Joey Lauren Adams. Most boys so far still have a more formal name like Joseph, but we think that could change soon since nicknames are becoming a trend and Joey has all the heart that Joseph seems to leave lacking. It's definitely the name of a guy we want for a friend.
This next one, we think, has more fans than anyone who would choose the longer version. Leonard has been out of style for some time, and we're not sure even "The Big Bang Theory" can revive it. And Leonardo is hot, thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio, but you have to be willing to go with something exotic. The nickname Leo is a lot easier to manage these days, and that's why it's been shooting up the charts.
Leo, which has its own meaning as a zodiac symbol for "lion," is also a name for a cool kid and, since so many popes shared the name, it also seems to be a name for a kid with a heart. Roger Federer chose the nickname for his son, and so did actress Jaime King and Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney. We wouldn't be surprised if some celebs started choosing it for their girls too, but for now, this nickname is squarely for the boys.
Matt was the nickname of the '80s. Max has been more common in recent years. But we think that the next wave will be for Mac, a nickname name that gives a new twist to an old classic and gives parents lots of options for paying homage to family members. Mac technically means "son of," because it's part of the last name system from old Scotland, where names like MacGregor and MacCartney and thinks originated. But there are a ton of first names that have included it in recent years, including girl names like MacKenzie.
Some people might name the kid Mack with a K, which is how they spelled it in the classic ballad of "Mack the Knife," and it's the way Mack in "Cars" is spelled. But others may prefer to leave off the K, like British dancer Ashley Taylor Dawson did for his son. We wouldn't be surprised if girls received the name soon too. We would sure love to steal it for our own little one.
Rhett may seem like a Southern name since it was made famous in "Gone With the Wind," but we've actually been hearing it more lately as a nickname for the name Everett. Most parents who choose that name for their baby would never consider actually calling him by his full name. Well, why not go straight for the nickname and name the baby Rhett.
Rhett was originally a last name — and country music star Thomas Rhett shows us that it is still around in that form. But it's also a great first name pick. "Hunger Games" actor Wes Chatham chose it for his son with Jenn Brown, and we think a lot more will start to opt for the nickname instead of the clunky, old-school Everett. It's been eight decades since "Gone With The Wind," which means it's a great time for the name to come back in a vintage way. We know that parents are going to want to start stealing this one very soon.
This one is a bit more on the edge here. Most people have only heard Beck as the name of a singer-songwriter who has had a number of really great hits but who stole the Album of the Year award from Beyonce several years ago. But it's also a great nickname for both boys and girls names. For girls, it's definitely a more modern way to shorten Rebecca instead of the '80s versions of Becca or Becky. For boys, it could be used for cool names like Beckham and Becker.
There aren't a lot of Becks out there, which makes it one of the most unusual names on our list. But parents are looking for names that stand out these days, and this one certainly does. There's a Beck Cooper who is a well-loved poet, and it's the name of one of the fairies in the Disney Fairies series. There are also some Becks on TV who are boys, including on "Victorious." This one isn't going to be at the top of the popularity list, but that's why we like it so much and why many parents may want to steal it for their own kid.
Here's another name that you may not think of much. It's an old-fashioned nickname that wasn't heard often in the childhood of millennials and even Gen Xers. But Kit is actually a nickname for Katherine or for Christopher or Christine. It fell out of favor for a few decades, as people turned toward Katie and Kathy and, for the boys, Chris. But the nickname remained for boys in England, which is how we got Kit Harrington, the hunk we all love from "Game of Thrones."
Kit by itself has all the magic of the nickname — something that immediately makes you like the bearer, whether it's a boy or a girl. Kit is your pal, and if you feel down, that's the cheerful person to pull you through. Benedict Cumberbatch named his son Christopher but calls him Kit, but Matt Bomer went right for the nickname. There are an actress and a writer by the name Kit who are women too, so it's definitely a unisex choice. The name just puts a smile on your face, so it's a definite one for parents to steal.
This next one is a name that many people may not realize is a nickname. It's been standing alone for so long that it seems like it was always a name on its own. But the truth is that Molly started out as a nickname for Mary. It definitely has all the traits of a nickname, except the one about it being shorter. It is definitely a name that makes you feel like you know the girl already. She's your sweet friend, Molly.
Like we said, the name has been around a while, although it's still a little unusual — unusual enough to feel unique and sweet. Celebrities such as Liam Gallagher from Oasis and actress Amanda Peet have Mollys, as well as Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky. We think it's a great nickname that just feels so personal and approachable, and it's perfect for a little cutie pie.
This next one also may seem like it's a stand-alone name, too. After all, it's the name of most of the boys in our nursery rhymes — there was Jack Spratt, Jack And The Beanstalk, Jack and Jill. But the truth is that very few boys were named Jack back in the day. Most of them were actually named John, but Jack became kind of a pet name to go with it. In fact, it became a term for "man" back in the Middle Ages because it was so commonly used.
But now, Jack is also a nickname for Jackson and names like that — and it's become a name in its own right. There are a number of celebrities who have used the pet name — from Ozzy Osbourne to Chris Pratt and Anna Farris. Action star Jason Statham and comedian Jeff Dunham both have Jacks too, and we think that it's a great boy nickname name to steal. Jacks are definitely darling, sweet cute pies.
There are a lot of nature names out there these days, but this one wasn't really a name for a while. It was more of a nickname for any girl who loved to sing or maybe ones named Bernadette. It evolved into a favorite back in 1880, when it was in the top 200, but it's definitely thought of as a grandmother name these days — a good thing, though, since grandma names are making a comeback.
Probably the most famous woman with the nickname was Lady Bird Johnson, whose real name was Claudia. She got the nickname when she was a child, but it made everyone feel as if they really knew her when she became First Lady. Actress Busy Phillips was inspired by Lady Bird when she named her oldest daughter Birdie. And we think that it is a great idea to steal the name once again and use it for your own little cutie pie.
As a nickname, Dusty is a bit, well, dusty. It's a bit old-school, although definitely not a grandfather name. It was a nickname for Dustin, and that name faded after the 1980s. There are some Dustins around, but they are in their 30s now. But we expect a big revival for Dusty as a name on its own, especially since Adam Levine and his model wife Behati Prinsloo chose the name for their baby girl.
Yes, we said girl. It's a name that has a lot of cross-over appeal, and that is definitely something that keeps it on millennial name lists. After the wrestler Dusty Rhodes and singer Dusty Springfield, there wasn't a lot around until Dusty Crophopper in "Planes" brought it back as a name to love. Adam and Behati took the cool level to an extreme with little Dusty Rose. We definitely think the nickname is back and one for parents to steal for their own name list.
This last name on our list has definitely risen to the top of just about everyone's boy name list. In fact, it's the No. 2 name for Nameberry from 2016, just one spot above the name that it is a nickname for, William. Liam began as a top nickname in Great Britain, but it's definitely huge on this side of the Atlantic as well.
This name has definitely become a celebrity favorite — and of course, also a name of some bigtime celebrities from Liam Neeson to Liam Payne from One Direction. One of the most high profile celebrity baby Liams is Tori Spelling's oldest child with Dean McDermott, but the name was truly cemented as a millennial favorite last year when Lauren Conrad used it for her precious little one. Now we know parents will all about stealing it for their little cutie pie.
Sources: Nameberry, People